Courses 2018-2019

Undergraduate Courses,

Fall 2018


Jewish Studies 39 “Jews in the English Imagination”

Instructor: Shirelle Doughty

Time: Mondays 2-4

Units: 2
CN #24836

How do we make sense of the disproportionate attention Jews received in the West in the last millennium? While explanations of persecution tend to focus on political, economic, and social factors, this course will use England as a case study to focus on the symbolic role of the figure of “the Jew.” Jews were absent from England for centuries following their expulsion in 1290, yet “the Jew” continued to figure prominently in English religious and secular texts—including works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Joyce. We will consider why the image of “the Jew” retained such importance and will examine how rhetorical evocations of this figure served to shape English identities. We will also examine the impact of certain theological approaches to thinking about Jews on British (and American) attitudes towards Zionism and Israel.

Jewish Studies 98 (DECAL) “Jew-ish: An Overview of Jewish Culture and Religion, Fall Session”

Instructor: Reni Forer

Time: Mondays 5-7 Barrows 174

Units: 2


This course will expose students to an overview of Jewish life, covering both cultural and religious topics, in addition to case studies to illuminate the content. This course will cover some key, basic concepts in Judaism, including lifecycle rituals and the Autumnal holidays, looking at multiple perspectives within each topic. This course will allow Jewish students to gain a clearer sense of how they want to personally practice Judaism, as well as expose non-Jewish students to aspects of Judaism that can be incorporated into any person’s life, while giving all students the opportunity to evolve their own spiritual or religious identity. This course is meant to not only expose students to what common Jewish rituals are, but to develop an understanding of a traditional Jewish lifestyle. This will be accomplished through weekly readings, class discussion, guest speakers, and field trips outside the classroom.

Jewish Studies 121* “Mapping Diasporas”

Instructor: Francesco Spagnolo

Time: TTH 1-2:30 @ The Magnes

Units: 4


*JS 121 satisfies the Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth requirement

How do we “map” cultures in motion?

Describing the interaction of places, times, languages, identities, cultural formats, dominant and marginal narratives that characterize cultures in diaspora requires a multidimensionality that traditional maps no longer meet.

In today’s world, we “map” diasporas through digital narratives , and often perform culture as archivists and curators .

In this course, students will work with the cultural objects held in The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life , including art, material culture, books, manuscripts, digital assets and data, learning to conduct collaborative research and documentation, to create maps and narratives, and to curate, perform and publish their findings inmuseum galleries and online .

Each week in the semester combines critical approaches and orienting texts with the exploration of a variety of tools and cultural practices.

Jewish Studies 122* “Introduction to Jewish Mysticism”

Instructor: Tomer Persico

Time: MW 9:30-11 in EVANS 51

Units: 3
CN #32812

*JS 122 satisfies the Philosophy & Values, L&S Breadth requirement

Beyond the esoteric names of the divine and the meditative practices used to draw Its graces lies the inner pulse of Jewish Mysticism. In this course we shall explore the Jewish mystical tradition, from the Bible, through the Second Temple literature, Kabbalah, Hasidism, and up to contemporary developments. Emphasizing mystical techniques, we will examine the practices through which Jews in different times sought direct connection with the divine.

History 103b “Holocaust in North Africa/Arab Lands”

Instructor: Katz

Time: TTH 11-12:30

Units: 3
CN #

While the Holocaust’s center and worst atrocities occurred in Europe, the event had an immense impact as well on Jewish and non-Jewish populations far beyond the continent, especially in North Africa and its surrounding regions.  Allied and Axis armies fought across North Africa for extensive portions of World War II. The area was eventually home to more than 100 wartime labor camps, in which Jews were often singled out for particularly harsh treatment. Jews in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya faced severe restrictions on employment, property, and education comparable to those imposed in parts of Western Europe. In Algeria, all Jews were stripped of their French citizenship, and in small numbers helped lead an underground movement that played a critical role in the success of the November 1942 Allied Landing. After the war, the memory of fascism and the Holocaust played a major role in North African and Middle Eastern society, in debates over decolonization, the question of Israel-Palestine, and the broader future of Jewish-Muslim relations.

This course examines all of these aspects of the crucial importance of the Holocaust to North Africa and its surrounding areas. How, we will ask, might expanding the geographical boundaries of the Holocaust force us to rethink concepts like perpetrators, victims, and collaboration? What choices, challenges, and opportunities existed for Jews in Vichy, Italian, and Nazi-occupied North Africa that mirrored or diverged from those in Europe? We will also interrogate more broadly the significance, impact, and memory of the Holocaust in the Muslim world, as our readings take us well beyond North Africa into the Arab Middle East and even into Central Asia. Another fundamental question that we tackle from several angles is the complex relationship between colonialism and the Holocaust, both as historical phenomena and in the collective memories of various nations and groups.

History 175B “Jews in the Modern World”

Instructor: John Efron

Time: TTH 9:30-11

Units: 4
CN #32321

This course will examine the impact of modern intellectual, political, cultural, and social forces on the Jewish people since the eighteenth century. It is our aim to come to an understanding of how the Jews interpreted these forces and how and in what ways they adapted and utilized them to suit the Jewish experience. In other words, we will trace the way Jews became modern. Some of the topics to be covered include Emancipation, the Jewish Enlightenment, new Jewish religious movements, Jewish politics and culture, antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the state of Israel.

Yiddish 101

Instructor: Amanda Siegel

MoTuWeThFr 11:00AM – 11:59AM Dwinelle 233

Units 5


Introduction to Yiddish language and literature. Attention to reading, writing, and speaking in the context of the historic Yiddish cultural environment.

Yiddish 103

Instructor: Yael Chaver

TuTh 11:00AM – 12:29PM Dwinelle 189

Units 5


Sholem Aleichem’s Inner Child: Motl, the Cantor’s Son.  The last bittersweet masterpiece by the great Yiddish writer addresses challenges of change and modernity in the shtetl, in the fictional voice of a young boy who has just lost his father. With Motl, we experience traumas and joys, adventures and calamities, tradition and upheaval, culminating in the great shift out of the shtetl and into the New World. Sholem Aleichem’s rich style offers his unique take on the world of childhood in 19th-century Eastern European Jewish culture.

Graduate Courses,

Fall 2018

History 280B/285B: “Ancient Israel in Modern Western Culture”*

Instructor: John Efron

Th 3-5pm 3205 Dwinelle

*counts toward the DE in Jewish Studies

Spanning the 17th through the 20th centuries this course sets out to explore the way Europeans, Americans and Israelis have imagined and represented Biblical Israel.  Among the topics we will address are: Spinoza’s heresy, the Enlightenment Bible, the politics of archaeology, histories of Ancient Israel, Christian and Jewish representations of Jesus and the Holy Land, Israelite-Sephardic authenticity and Masada and the Zionist imagination.